10.04.2010

Marketing Mondays: The Academic Gallery, Part 2

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No, this is not a museum gallery or a bluechip commercial space. It's the OSilas Gallery at Concordia College in Bronxville, Westchester County, about 15 miles from Manhattan

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In Part 1 last week: Our gallery directors discussed the value to artists of an academic gallery show, and they talked about how they select artists for exhibition. This week they offer advice and observation.
Our experts: Patricia Miranda, artist, educator, and director of the OSilas Gallery at Concordia College in Bronxville, New York; Jane Allen Nodine, artist, professor of art, and director of the Curtis R. Harley Gallery at the University of South Carolina Upstate, in Spartanburg, South Carolina
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What advice would you offer artists thinking about submitting work to an academic gallery?Nodine: Visit academic galleries in your area and whenever you travel. Look online to see the reputation and exhibition history of an academic gallery, and if it appeals to you, look at their submission guidelines. Introduce yourself to gallery directors and put them on your mailing lists. Like their commercial counterparts, academic galleries have particular goals or a mission, so not all college and university galleries will be a viable option for you. You have to do your homework, but it can pay back in numerous constructive ways.
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Miranda: I really do look at work that artists send. Artists should keep in mind that we work far in advance and are more likely to plan thematic group shows, although this is not always the case. Organized, professional packages really do make a huge difference, and in addition to a regular submission packet, I like to be updated about ongoing work. Curators often like to watch an artist’s work for a while before choosing to exhibit it, to see an artist grow and develop, and to see if that artist is a good fit for the gallery or a particular show.
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How does the academic gallery fit in with the local/regional art scene?
Miranda: Concordia is less than 15 miles from Manhattan, so we are surrounded by a wealth of culture and art. We exhibit local as well as regional and international artists, and we're always striving to make connections with local institutions, such as the Hudson River Museum, as well as local arts organizations and community groups. This past summer we mounted a historical exhibition about WWI and II veterans from Bronxville, Eastchester and Tuckahoe—and the West Point Jazz Band performed to a large community response. I think following a show of contemporary women artists from South Asia [the major spring exhibition] with a regional historical show is one of the unique things a gallery in an academic institution can do.
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.Nodine: We are a state university located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, about an hour south of Charlotte, North Carolina. There are three private colleges in our city, and each has one or two galleries with scheduled exhibitions. There is a community art museum, several commercial galleries, an artist-in-residence program with alternative space gallery, and an artist cooperative with exhibition space, which is a rather active art scene for a city of about 40,000. Since we are not tied to the sales of work, we are freer to venture into the margins. Viewers know there will be educational support materials to accompany exhibits, or the artist will be present to speak about the work. All of the galleries in town know each other, and I find we typically complement actives in some manner.
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.Last thoughts?
Miranda: I always think of Holland Cotter's article for The New York Times, Why University Museums Matter. He wrote: "University museums are unlike other museums . . . They are, before all else, teaching instruments intended for hands-on use by students and scholars. As such, they often house objects that are considered of second- and third-tier value at auction but that fill out a deep and detailed account of cultural history."
.I love this description, that we exhibit work which offers an important ingredient to our cultural conversation. We are more grassroots, more responsive, perhaps, to the idea that art is like any other language--something that needs time, needs nurturing and education--and that a lot of work has value in this dialogue beyond the blockbuster show or simply a monetary one. Art is after all, about a dialogue between the artists, their environment and experience, and the world around them. I believe academic galleries do justice to that conversation.

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Of course, you don't want to inundate curators with info, email or phone calls. We generally have extremely an small staff covering an enormous amount of ground, and it can seem invasive to send too much. But I genuinely do like to get exhibition announcements, and I will try and see shows when I can. I do keep artists in mind for long periods of time, and keeping me updated is a good way to be sure of that. Also, I always find it interesting when an artist proposes an idea for a thematic exhibition that is larger than his or her own work, an idea for a show that might open up a new subject or explore an old one in a new way. Most artists don't curate their own shows, but an artist's good idea might result in an exhibition including their work. As curators we are always listening for new ideas. In 2011 we will have an eco-arts exhibition, exploring new ways artists use their work to speak about the environment, a show that came about through such conversations with artists.
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Update 10.11.10:  Read about Nancy Azara's show at the University College Art Gallery of Fairleigh Dickinson University. Click here for article and pics.

Above: Nancy Azara creating work for her show, Spirit Taking Form: Rubbings, Tracings and Carvings," at Fairleight Dickingson University in Teaneck, New Jersey
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Below, the artist installing one work

2 comments:

Matthew Beall said...

I did a little digging and found this useful site http://www.collegeart.org/opportunities/type/3/

Stephanie Sachs said...

thank you. I found these two posts very informative and inspiring.